A Cozy Mystery Written for
Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune Series at Kindle Worlds
Mayor Celia Arceneaux orchestrates a special holiday surprise. She wants to celebrate Christmas by giving back to Sinful’s most unappreciated citizens—the town’s elementary school teachers.
Handing down an AOO, also known as the Arceneaux Official Order, Celia calls upon friends and foes to carry out her plans. Gertie and Ida Belle are willing to help, but Fortune doesn’t share their enthusiasm. Taking a temporary post at the school library, the former CIA assassin braces for Christmas and everything the season holds.
From trimming trees to snow on the ground, Sinful residents will celebrate a Christmas to remember. That is, until small town Louisiana makes national headlines thanks to a school shooting that isn’t what it seems.
It was as quiet as it might have been in a confessional booth. Not that I’d been in a confessional booth. Since my arrival in Sinful, I’d become a devoted Baptist, which was a better choice for someone like me.
Given my career, I was afraid that the Catholics wouldn’t want me, mainly because of the confession aspect. If I started listing out my sins, the whole charade would take several days. My acknowledgement of sin would turn into a full declaration of guilt which would inevitably supersede denial before it would lead to a request for forgiveness.
The whole process would take days, weeks even. A regular rotation of priests would be required and that same question would hang in the balance: “Is she still here?” Followed by, “How many sins can one woman commit?”
An assassin carried around quite a few.
I’d actually had nightmares about confessing my sins so I was relieved to discover that Gertie and Ida Belle attended the Baptist Church. Not only did we stand out as the current pudding wars champions, but I never worried about finding an “Out of Order” or “Out to Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” sign on a confessional booth. Baptists didn’t have sinners’ stalls and if they did, they hadn’t mentioned it to me.
“Who are you? Where’s Mrs. Weems?” The questions jolted me to the present. “Only real teachers are supposed to take off today. She doesn’t look like a librarian. That’s because she isn’t a real librarian.” All heads turned. “Where are you from? Will you be here all week? Who are you again?”
“Great,” I grumbled, facing Carter and ignoring the mix of ricocheting questions. “Why don’t you take the first part of class?”
“You’ll be fine,” Carter mouthed.
I bit back a groan, but quickly decided that the good deputy had just provided an out and didn’t know it. I’d gladly turn over the class and leave the last forty-five minutes for Carter. This particular bunch looked like an interesting crowd. They would appreciate a deputy’s monologue.
“I’m Fortune….I mean…Miss Morrow.”
One rambunctious little boy with red hair and freckles stood up and wiggled around as he asked, “Can we call you by your first name?” He kept his eyes downcast, one hand on the table, and rotated left to right. “Where are you from, Fortune?”
“It’s not Fortune. It’s Miss Morrow.” For some reason, I glanced at Carter right at that very moment. He shot me a crooked smile. He didn’t think I could handle this young crowd. An unspoken challenge was on the table.
“You’re on.” I mouthed the words, knowing that Carter would understand. Pacing in front of the students, I began again. “My name is Miss Morrow. You can call me…” I spun around for theatrics. “Miss Morrow.”